The Impact of Microplastic Ingestion on the Bivalve Filtration Efficiency of the Hooked Mussel (Ischadium recurvum) from the Chesapeake Bay


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Microplastic pollution is an increasing issue as sea animals are observed with pollutants within their bodies and cells. Mussels and other marine bivalves have the capability to filter phytoplanktonic organisms and chemical pollutants, but cannot break down microplastics if ingested. Because bivalves filter pollutants out of the water, many kinds of debris enter their systems. It is hypothesized that microplastics will reduce the efficiency of the Ischadium recurvum and its ability to filter toxins that deteriorate water quality. This study will determine the effect of intaking 5 to 50-micrometer diameter plastic on the filtering efficiency of Ischadium recurvum. The experiment will prepare two 10-gallon water samples with 34% salinity and water turbidity of ~100 NTU from the algae concentration for mussels’ environment. Twelve mussels will be collected from the York River to measure the nutrient concentration, dissolved oxygen concentration, water transparency, and chlorophyll concentration to determine the water quality before and after the filtration in both the controlled and polluted environment. A comparison of the two water quality results will determine how microplastics have affected the mussels’ filtration. The mussels are expected to completely filter out the contaminants in the control test and experimental trial with microplastic contaminants, albeit at a slower rate. With a bivalve system, mussels can capture particles at a low nutritive value, which will slow down consumption, but leave little filtration difference. The study will provide information for bay restoration projects to utilize different mussels to filter bay water at a higher efficiency.